When it comes to releasing a CD project, planning out all aspects of the release is essential. Most independent artists begin the creation process with only one thought in mind – recording the project. They believe the artwork and many other creative/practical aspects of the project are less relevant and can be placed on the back burner until much later in the process. They tend to view those elements as an afterthought. If you seek to move beyond warehousing 1,000 CD’s in your garage, you’ll want to think ahead and identify the various tasks which will allow you to actually create a buzz and sell music. Let’s be honest, with all the hype about the digital retail option killing CD sales, the CD is still the predominate vehicle for delivering music to the consumer. Beyond that, concentrating on a digital-only sales perspective is a sure-fire method of surrendering at least half of the potential sales opportunities available to you. An extensive study uncovered the fact that 85% of the tracks available for sale on the digital retail sites are never purchased – NOT EVEN ONCE! That’s a pretty alarming statistic. Even if you are turning sales on digital retail sites, you’re likely bringing in a very small amount of income from the process. At $.50 to $.60 a pop, the sale of a hundred singles barely fills your gas tank. What’s more, you typically can’t sell a digital album or single at a live show.
Selling CDs at shows is definitely a good source of income, so you’ll want to have all aspects of your project ready to send to the manufacturing plant when you receive the mastered CD back from the mastering facility. By doing so, you’ll ensure that you have product in hand to sell as soon as possible. If you’re looking to operate at a higher level, virtually any wholesaler or retailer you may approach will have some sort of schedule by which they conduct business (particularly distribution and retail chain stores). To meet the demands of their schedules, you might need to have certain elements locked in up to six months prior to the date you wish to release the CD. So the message is this – start thinking about all aspects of your project from the very beginning. Don’t leave anything to chance. Artwork, packaging, distribution, etc. are not things you can afford to put off until after you’ve finished recording. Music is a business as well as an art. To truly break through in an ever-increasingly indie-friendly yet competitive world, you’ll need to be able to step up to the plate with some knowledge and, often, some cash in hand. But one thing remains true – planning is free. You don’t have to invest anything but a bit of time and effort to develop a complete vision for the project by setting an agenda based on deadlines and due dates. In an Indie world, the risks are greater and the work harder, but the potential rewards are greater as well.